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“The explosion went off a few inches away from me, but it is not my time,” said President Emmerson Managagwa
An explosion erupted in White City stadium in Bulawayo, the second major city of Zimbabwe, during the president’s campaign rally. The Zimbabwe government has called this explosion an assassination attempt on President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
According to CNN, forty-nine civilians were injured, including the two vice presidents, Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga. President Mnangagwa renounced the act, describing it as cowardly. “The campaign so far has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections. It’s just an element of defeatists in the struggle of freedom. The country is peaceful,” declared President Mnangagwa.
Footage shows President Mnangagwa walking into a tent after leaving the stage where the explosion occurred several seconds later. Luckily, the president was quickly taken into a government building in Bulawayo for safety.
Many claim the attack is a response to the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe. The country will be holding its first presidential elections after 37 years since Robert Mugabe was forcibly removed from office in November. As Mnangagwa’s presidential candidacy has been subject to much criticism, particularly by loyalists of Robert Mugabe. In November, Mnangawa fled Zimbabwe after his firing due to his public opposition of Mugabe. “This incident doesn’t stand in the way of (the) electoral program,” he said. “It doesn’t undermine the security of the country, but we are jolted. We are not used to this kind of violence” Mnangagwa declared.
Since the attacks, Zimbabwe has received much international support. The United States and the U.K. have condemned the attacks, expressing their support through the U.S. Embassy’s twitter. Additionally, as Zimbabwe’s past elections have been subject to fraud and violence, the international community ensures Zimbabwe will receive financial assistance and assistance from international institutions on the condition that fair elections are held.
We condemn e attack at e ZANU-PF rally in Byo this afternoon. Political violence in any form is unacceptable & contrary 2 e positive progress required 2 move Zim forward as it seeks 2 take its place on the global stage. Our thoughts & prayers go out 2 e victims & their families.
— U.S. Embassy Harare (@usembassyharare) June 23, 2018
According to Zimbabwean Electoral Commission (ZEC), the commission’s partners and other U.N agencies will provide pne-fourth of $198 million budget to hold elections. These elections will also test Mnangagwa’s democratic credentials as the responsibility of fair elections seems to rest on his shoulders.
Currently, the attackers have not been identified. However, analysts theorize that the attackers may be among the military. Some even suggest the attackers may be member of the Zanu-PF, who were cast to the sidelines after the downfall of Robert Mugabe.